Locations in South Iceland
My favorite country to travel to and photograph in is Iceland.
It is like an other planet and the photo possibilities are almost infinite.
I have been to the most parts of Iceland and will share more articles from other parts later. But I will start with the southern part which is the most accessible if you’re only staying for a couple of days. And you will get a lot done in a couple of days in South Iceland, as there is plenty to see without having to drive too far.
The easiest way to rent a car is at the airport. And from a personal experience I can recommend Blue car rental, which is my go to company when renting car on my Iceland trips. If you will only follow the Ring Road a 2WD is enough, but if you plan on taking some sideroads you should rent a 4WD.
Reykjanes is a geo thermal area close to Keflavik airport, and is often overlooked as people only pass it on the way to or from the airport.
But this is an area that offers many photo possibilites and is usually my first stop after I have picked up the car at the airport.
Getting to Reykjanes from the airport is easy. About 5-6 minutes after leaving Keflavik you will see a sign on the right side leading to Hafnir.
Follow this road about 20 minutes and you will see the smoke from the geo thermal area. There are two roads leading in to this area, but the best one is by following the sign to 425 Reykjanesviti. This way you will be able to drive up to the geo thermal area Gunnuhver, to Reykjanes lighthouse and to Reykjanesviti beach. There is no problem driving here with a 2WD, but the parking lot next to the beach can be bumpy.
You can also park on the upper side of the geo thermal area and walk from there to the lighthouse. This is a nice walk, but be aware if you’re there in july / august. There are a lot of birds in this area and during breeding season they can be quite agressive.
Before you continue the journey, a really nice pit stop is the geothermal spa Blue Lagoon, which is just a short drive from Reykjanes.
It is expensive, but a really relaxing experience. Just be sure to book your tickets beforehand, as this is a very popular place.
Also, instead of driving back to the ring road, follow the coastal road 427 towards Eyrarbakki. This is a beautiful drive and you will pass several potensial photo motives on the way.
Following the Ring Road to Vik
This route is probably the most popular route on South Iceland, and here the photo motives will come as pearls on a string.
The first stop is Seljalandsfoss which is just over 2 hours driving from Reykjanes. This 60 meters tall waterfall is easy to see from the Ring Road and is very accessible. Meaning that here there are usually many tourists. It is a beautiful waterfall, but compared to many other waterfalls on Iceland is it not as exciting as one should think. As for photography, it is one of those spots that is over-photographed. So I usually just drive straight pass it. But if you are on Iceland for the first time, it is worth a stop. And challenge yourself to find some new angels.
The coolest part about Seljalandsfoss is that you can actually walk behind it.
Close by you will also find the more hidden waterfall Gljufrabui. Yet, also this one has become very touristy.
Next up is the waterfall Skogafoss, also easy to see from the Ring Road.
This is kind of an icon, and even if this spot also is crowded, it is well worth a stop.
There is such power in Skogafoss and if you visit it early morning or late evening, you might actually be lucky and have the waterfall almost to yourself.
Close by is Skogar museum, and if you’re like me and you are into turf houses, this a must see. It is a beautiful open air museum and you can also visit the inside of all the buildings.
From the Skogar museum parking there is a 10 minute walk to one of my favorite waterfalls on Iceland, Kvernufoss.
Getting here you will need to climb the fence on the east side of the parking, where there are stairs leading over the fence.
Kvernufoss is a real beauty and is much less crowded than Skogafoss.
Continuing towards Vik, you can choose to stop by the plane wreck on Solheimasandur.
Also easy to see from the ring road, as you will see hords of people walking in that direction. Which is the reason I have not been there myself.
Next up is Dyrholaey which is absolutely worth a stop.
The coastal view here is amazing, and if you’re lucky you will also be able to photograph puffins.
To see the puffins you will need to be here really early or really late. Otherwise there will be too much people here for the puffins to be close.
Also if you drive up to Dyrholaey lighthouse you will experience the famous view of the black sand beach. A 4WD is recommended when driving up here, as it is quite steep.
Before coming to Vik, be sure to stop by Reynisfjara sand beach, where you will find a beautiful black sand beach and the rock formations Reynisdrangar.
Be careful at this beach, as the waves here can be more dangerous than they look.
Both Dyrholaey and Reynisfjara are marked from the main road.
In Vik you will of course see the famous Vik church, and also from the center you can walk down to the blach beach which has several photo possibilites.
If you are up for an adventure before leaving Vik, I highly recommend driving up to the camping ground Thakgil.
4 km after Vik you will see the sign leading to Thakgil. It is a 14 km drive and you will need a 4WD as it is a bumpy and winding road. But you will drive through amazingly green landscape ending up at the camping ground which has some really cool rock formations. There are also a couple of stops on the way which offers great views.
Now we are entering the area which is my favorite area in the south of Iceland, as it offers fantastic and lush green landscape.
And the first stop will be Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon, which is about 65 km after Vik. You will see the sign from the main road, and from there a couple of kilometer drive on a road where there is no problem driving a 2WD.
This is also a crowded place (Thank you for that Justin Bieber). But as the canyon is 2 km long, it doesn’t feel too crowded.
Fjaðrárgljúfur is an impressive sight and a great photo motive both from the ground and from the air. Using a drone here is allowed, as long as you don’t fly over people.
Continuing on you can stop by Stjórnarfoss which is just a 10 minutes drive further, and is a pretty cool waterfall.
Then you will come to Foss a Sidu. Another beautiful waterfall. And just up ahead is Dverghamrar. This is a basalt rock area, and makes for a great motive as you will have the basalt rocks on the sides, and Foss a Sidu in the middle.
Another basalt area you will come to is Skaftafell with the waterfall Svartifoss. This area is also a glacier area, but some of the roads leading up to the glaciers can be really bad.
In this area you will also pass the mountain Lómagnúpur, which is an impressive mountain. And as there are both glacier rivers running close and infinite roads passing by, also is a great motive for photography.
The final stop of this journey is the beautiful turf church Hofskirkja. It is not easy to see from the ring road as it is covered in trees. But follow the sign leading up to Hof and you will come to the parking. The church could have been taken straight out of Lord of the Rings, and is worth the extra trip before turning back.